Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Samuel Wanjiru Resigns From Team Toyota Kyushu

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/olympic/2008/news/track/long/news/20080728-OYT1T00534.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On July 28, Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu of Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture, received a letter of resignation from its star runner, Kenyan Olympic marathon team member and half marathon world record holder Samuel Wanjiru, 21. The letter was sent by a Tokyo law office and stated that Wanjiru would be resigning "for personal reasons." Wanjiru has been training in Kenya separately from the team since mid-July. Representatives from Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu commented, "We have to confirm that this letter was actually sent by Wanjiru and that this is really his intention."

Wanjiru joined Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu in 2005 after graduating from Sendai Ikuei High School in Miyagi Prefecture where he studied as an exchange student. In his debut marathon at last December`s Fukuoka International Marathon Wanjiru won the race in a course record time. In April this year he was 2nd in the London Marathon and was selected for the Kenyan Olympic team.

Translator`s note: Wanjiru joined Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu because its coach is Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita. Wanjiru is based in Japan most of the year, returning to Kenya several times a year for training and racing around the world through his association with agent Federico Rosa and his father, coach Gabrielle Rosa.

Since moving toward the marathon in the last year Wanjiru has been pulled in opposing directions by Morishita and Rosa, initially announcing he would run his debut marathon in Fukuoka, then switching to New York, then back to Fukuoka when Toyota Kyushu blocked his New York plans. Following Wanjiru`s course record debut victory at Fukuoka Morishita publicly stated that he didn`t want Wanjiru to run in the London or the Olympic marathons, but rather to spend a few years gradually building his experience before seeking to break through on the world level as a marathoner. Wanjiru ran London in an extremely fast time and was selected for the Kenyan Olympic team on the strength of that performance. He has spent much of his time since London pacemaking Toyota Kyushu teammates in their attempts to make the Japanese Olympic team in the men`s 10000 m.

Although Wanjiru claims to value his status as a jitsugyodan runner in Japan and the experience it brings him, it would appear that the limitations the Japanese system imposes, including a 180 day residency requirement, participation in particular ekidens and track races, and limitations on being able to select overseas races independently, have come to outweigh the benefits for a runner of Wanjiru`s ability.

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